8 Awesomely Frugal Date Ideas For The Weekend

(Guest Post by Mr. Everyday Dollar while J$ finishes up his paternity leave ;)  He’ll be back (and excited to share pictures!) on Monday! Take someone on one of these dates this weekend!)

So you want to take that special girl, or boy, out for a date, but you also like to keep your wallet full of as many dollars as possible. That has you in a pickle, right? There is an easy solution to this: take them on a one-of-a-kind date that won’t bust the bank. Because really, love shouldn’t cost a thing!

1) The CD Exchange

Take your date to one of the many used CD stores – where you can pick up a disc for mere dollars or even cents – with the goal of picking each other a CD you think they will enjoy and then surprise each other with your choice. One of two things will happen: either they will love the CD you chose for them and the fact that you do really “get” them, or they will cringe at the idea you think they would actually like that Hanson album from 1997. But you can joke about that at your wedding! Take the CDs back to your place and have a listen while you cook a homemade dinner together.

2) Go Birding

bird watching
When you think about birding you probably think some nerdy, socially awkward, binoculars-around-the-neck, silly-hat-and-pant-wearing, latin-bird-name-spouting person. And you would be pretty accurate. But it’s actually a cool sport. You and your date get to trounce around in nature with the sun on your face and the wind in your hair, spotting birds and then, trying to identify them.

There’s excellent books to identify birds, such as the “Sibley Guide To Birds” or the “National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America,” which are available at the local library (free!). Additionally, there are inexpensive phone apps for bird identification as well. Think about how much fun you’ll have arguing if what you just spotted was a Western Tanager or an Oriole!

3) Get Wet

With the record heat waves we have experienced in the U.S. this summer, what better way to cool off than to take a dip in the water! The public pool is a great place to do this. The local one where I live has an evening swim time during the week that is ridiculously inexpensive. You can have a contest between you and your date to see who can perform the better swan dive or make a bigger splash with the cannonball. Some of us may even be fortunate to have either a lake or ocean to take a dip in, which is absolutely free!

4) Get Dry

Many local parks have fire pits, and sometimes these are even reservable. Plan ahead and besides bringing some firewood, make sure to pack some hot dogs and s’more ingredients too. Have fun telling each other ghost stories, feeding each other s’mores, and before you know it, the fire won’t be the only thing heating up! :)

5) Volunteer

Find a local soup kitchen, food pantry or nonprofit organization to volunteer at. Besides showing your date that you are caring and like giving back to your community, it will be a great way to display the fact you can interact well with the other volunteers and general population as well. You both can feel good about this date and hopefully have fun standing side-by-side helping out people in need.

6) The Picnic

I have my favorite local parks and within those parks, my favorite spots for picnics. What is more romantic than you and your date hopping on your bicycles and riding to a park to spend a lazy afternoon on a blanket, soaking up the sun and each other’s company? Be sure to bring a bottle of wine, a baguette, some cheeses, olives, and berries. Chocolate-covered strawberries get total bonus points.

7) The House Hunter

Sundays work best for this. Pick out three open houses and become prospective buyers! You can poke fun at the decorating sense of the different owners while mulling over if you can live without the ensuite bathroom with sunken whirlpool. Keep it a secret which house you’re leaning towards and at the end of the tour you can reveal to each other which house you chose and why. This is a great way to get to know someone and their financial sensibility!

8) Check The City Event Calendar

local farmers market
Stuck thinking up a date idea? One of my go-to places to find out what cheap and interesting events are happening is to check the local city event calendar. A sampling of what I found just for this upcoming weekend is a farmer’s market, multiple free county fairs, a free opera in the park, free music galore, free art festivals, a free belly dancing show, a $9 local theater play, free or $2+ comedy shows, $6 tango lessons, a $5 minor league baseball game and a plethora of free museums and art shows.

Mr. Everyday Dollar is the founder of MrEverydayDollar.com where everyday decisions lead to financial independence. He uses his passion for spending less, saving more and investing what he saves to help educate others on reaching financial independence. Connect with him on Twitter @MrEverydayDolla or Facebook.

(Bird photo by gareth1953 Alive and Well and Much Better, other two by Mr. Everyday Dollar)

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  1. Lance @ Money Life and More July 27, 2012 at 7:08 AM

    I live in a tourist area so some of my favorite things are going to the beach and going to shopping centers and people watching. Tourists can be very entertaining when they’re on vacation! You can also check out DVDs from your local library or go to a local state park for the day.

  2. DC @ Young Adult Money July 27, 2012 at 7:19 AM

    Where I live (Minnesota) there are a ton of lakes and with that a ton of public beaches. Quality varies, but overall there are a ton of quality, FREE beaches out there. Besides that hitting up a state park to play frisbee, grill, etc. can be a good inexpensive date option. If it’s raining out coffee shops can make for cheap dates.

  3. alana July 27, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    I really like the CD idea, and it’s even better when followed by dinner like you suggest. So now that you’ve given me this great idea, I only have to grab a guy…no biggie….

  4. Michelle July 27, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    I like the house hunters idea! One thing I love about my marriage is how much fun we have together…doing anything! We have such a good time just going places and goofing off. With 3 little ones at home, we don’t get to go on dates as often, but just getting out and window shopping or pretend house-hunting would be a fun date, I think!

  5. Mr. Everyday Dollar July 27, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    Alana, I recently did the CD exchange followed by a delicious dinner at my place. It was really fun and we both got to discover new music artists! Any guy would be lucky to have a girl who reads PF blogs!

  6. Joe @ Retire By 40 July 27, 2012 at 11:16 AM

    There are a bunch of free concerts and festivals in the summer. That’s what we do for entertainment these days and the little guy always has fun tagging along. Birding doesn’t sound appealing to me. :)

  7. Mr. Everyday Dollar July 27, 2012 at 11:36 AM

    Joe, maybe you’re not old enough yet for birding :)

  8. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager July 27, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    Check social media for free events happening near you!

  9. TB at BlueCollarWorkman July 27, 2012 at 1:08 PM

    My wife and I used to camp, man, it saves TONS of money and you get away! It’s a GREAT suggestion. And we don’t exactly do the birding thing, we actually geocache (when my phone’s GPS is working). Free and awesome fun!

  10. Shannon-ReadyForZero July 27, 2012 at 2:01 PM

    Love the volunteer idea! It’s a great way to have fun and give back. Plus, it’s an activity that can even bring you closer as a couple.

  11. Mr. Everyday Dollar July 27, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    As TB at BlueCollarWorkman mentioned, geocaching is another great and free idea. You get to go out and explore the world! Thanks for mentioning that one.

  12. Trish @ Finances With Funk July 27, 2012 at 3:05 PM

    Where’s Hiking, or Mountain Biking, for us super outdoorsy, in amazing shape hard-bodies? Oh wait……That’s what I used to do on dates 10 years ago………Birding it is.

  13. LB July 27, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    Watch the Olympics together! Inexpensive and fun too :)

  14. Bridget July 27, 2012 at 9:18 PM

    haha I like the showhome idea! I love doing that!

  15. C The Writer July 28, 2012 at 4:25 PM

    I’ve never been on a date…but I’m pretty sure that some of these are not good date ideas.

  16. J. Money July 29, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    Thanks again, Mr. Everyday Dollar! The CD and House Hunting ideas were my favorites, haha… both very brilliant! I miss CDs and mixed tapes :(

  17. Bettina Em July 29, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    Who doesn’t love a farmer’s market?! Great eats, usually an awesome vibe and super nice people. :) Thanks for the ideas!

  18. Budget & the Beach July 29, 2012 at 7:01 PM

    I like activity dates, and those can be inexpensive too, like hiking, biking, even renting a kayak isn’t that expensive..oh and farmer’s markets are fun…then you can cook what you bought.

  19. Mr. Everyday Dollar July 30, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    The farmer’s market *is* one of the best. I am fortunate to live in a city with one of the biggest ones in the US so it can take an hour plus to get through. Plus, you’re supporting the local economy by keeping the dollars in your community and out of the big corporate factory farms. A special Saturday morning brunch with your market finds – mimosas also recommended – is surely a way to your date’s heart!

  20. Wayne @ Young Family Finance August 1, 2012 at 12:33 AM

    The picnic date is definitely legit. My first date with my wife was a picnis in a town park. We ate lunch and painted landscapes. I also proposed on a similar picnic. Frugal and romantic.

  21. J. Money August 1, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    You’re a pimp!!

  22. J. Money October 12, 2012 at 9:56 AM

    Yeah – one of my faves from the list!

  23. Elliott Bailey May 27, 2015 at 2:33 AM

    We love Geocaching together! It’s basically treasure hunting that uses your mobile (better explanation here – http://fightforher.com/geocache-surprise-date/ ) It’s $10 for the app the first time but after that it’s free!

    1. J. Money May 29, 2015 at 10:34 PM

      hah – brilliant!